After my alarm clock went off this morning I got up, turned on my computer, checked my work email, Gmail and Hotmail accounts, opened up Bloglines to see what was new on my favorite blogs, checked out Google News, Dugg a few articles, submitted a story to Sphinn, checked my MySpace and Facebook messages, sent an IM and then decided to take a shower and eat some breakfast.
OK Casie, thanks for an update on your morning…but what is the point? Three years ago today my day started NOTHING like this. I lived in a different city, I had never even heard of Gmail, Google News, Bloglines, Digg, Myspace or Facebook, Sphinn didn’t exist and to tell you the truth, the letters “SEO” meant absolutely nothing to me.
A few months later I began my descent into the search marketing industry and just like my morning, it too has significantly changed over the past three years. The things I was doing then no longer apply and things I would never have imagined are an every day occurrence in my life.
Let’s start with the SEO basics:
When I began creating meta tags they were still places you listed all of the keywords you wanted to rank for. It was okay to to have a generic or bland description tag and the title tag was simply 3-5 of your top keywords.
Example (I actually found this today):
<TITLE>Capresso; Coffee Makers, Coffeemaker, Coffee Grinders, Coffee Pots, Espresso Machines, Cappuccino Machines, Commercial Espresso Machines, Espresso Makers, Coffee, Coffee Maker, Espresso Machine, Coffee Grinder>/TITLE>
<META NAME=”KEYWORDS” CONTENT=”Coffee Makers,Coffeemaker,Coffee Grinders,Coffee Pots,Espresso Machines,Cappuccino Machines,Commercial Espresso Machines,Espresso Makers,Coffee,Coffee Maker,Espresso Machine,Coffee Grinder,Capresso,Coffee Machine,Espresso Maker,Coffee Machines,Coffee Pot,Expresso Machines,Cappuccino Machine,Capresso Coffee Maker,Capresso Coffee Makers,Cappuccino Maker,Commercial Coffee Makers,Jura-Capresso”>
<META NAME=”DESCRIPTION” CONTENT=”Coffee Makers: Specializing in Coffeemaker, Coffee Grinders, Coffee Pots, Espresso Machines, Cappuccino Machines, Commercial Espresso Machines, Espresso Makers, Coffee, Coffee Maker, and Espresso Machine”>
Can you imagine doing this today? It’s no wonder meta tags have such little value!
Does the phrase “keyword density” mean anything to you? At my old company the job of our copywriting team was to go in and make sure that keywords were inserted into the copy and that the keyword density was between 10-15%. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that the issue of keyword density is still a debatable topic, but I’d like to think that we now focus a lot more on what the copy is saying as opposed to making sure it has the right keyword density.
Directories, Directories, Directories. Oh yeah…and some reciprocal linking. I honestly spent the first 6 months of my career mindlessly submitting websites to hundreds of directories and scouring search results to find sites to exchange links with. (It’s a wonder that I made it this far thinking back on it.) While thankfully I no longer have to do that, I do still spend a large chunk of my time searching the internet for linking opportunities. The good news is there are so many possibilities and mediums now that link building is actually interesting.
Keyword Rankings and Success Measurements
“We guarantee Top Ten rankings” Sound familiar? Sure it could be on ANY search engine but that didn’t matter if you had 40 top tens. Keyword rankings were the SEO measurement of success before analytics tools became prominent (and more importantly cheaper). Good rankings showed you knew what you were doing and that meant a happy client.
*It should be noted that I am not discounting keyword rankings. I think that keyword rankings are a great indication of how a site is doing, however, they are certainly not everything. If we show only a few keyword rankings increases but a substantial traffic increase I would certainly quantify that as success.
And then there’s the new stuff…
When I started my first SEO job I had no idea what SEO was, I knew very little about internet marketing and I certainly didn’t know a whole lot about the backend of websites. But the thing was that I didn’t really need to. Once I figured out how to do the basic stuff there wasn’t a ton of variance. Today however that isn’t the case. You have to know the many different landscapes on the internet, how they work, what works on them and more importantly, what works best for your client. What may work for one site could have no relevance on another. As the internet has grown and changed, so has our knowledge and strategies.
Now there were certainly blogs out there a few years ago but not like today, with Technorati claiming to track over 100 million. I didn’t spend an hour out of my day reading blogs and another three hours finding blogs that were relevant to my clients. Bloggers were not these influential people whose opinion you necessarily respected and needed. Bloggers today are important and there are certainly a number of them out there that can make a difference by discussing a company or product.
Things have changed a lot in three years time and I am sure in another three years things will have changed again. For me, that’s one of the things that makes this job so great…you never know what you will be doing next. What are some other things that have changed in the search marketing industry over the past few years?